Saturday, December 14, 2013

Water Vapor from Europa

This graphic shows the location of water vapor detected over Europa's south pole in observations taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in December 2012. This is the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off Europa's surface.

Hubble didn't photograph plumes, but spectroscopically detected auroral emissions from oxygen and hydrogen. The aurora is powered by Jupiter's magnetic field. This is only the second moon in the solar system found ejecting water vapor from the frigid surface. The image of Europa is derived from a global surface map generated from combined observations taken by NASA's Voyager and Galileo space probes.

Image credit: NASA/ESA/L. Roth/SWRI/University of Cologne

Note: For more information, see Hubble Discovers Water Vapor Venting from Jupiter's Moon Europa, PIA17659: Artist's Concept of Europa Water Vapor Plume, and Hubble Sees Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter Moon.

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